Betrayal by Valerie Bacharach


After strokes corroded synapses, sent neurons flaring into nothingness.
After her body’s right side became unwilling.

Once, my mother clothed herself in ruby and obsidian,
harnessed the spinning world, drank scotch in a heavy glass.

After existing in assisted living, refusing to dress, to eat,
to sleep in the hospital bed, her own bed too big, too high off the ground.

Once, my mother begged me not to hate her, confessed
affairs with married men, her loneliness a halo.

After language decamped until only no remained.
Her frenetic heart, her stuttering lungs pinned me to earth.

Once, in the week before she died, my mother said
dying isn’t like it is in the movies.

Riddle: Who can laugh and cry at exactly the same time?
A daughter.


Valerie Bacharach’s writing has appeared or will appear in: Vox Populi, The Blue Mountain Review, EcoTheo Review, Minyon Magazine, One Art, The Ilanot Review, and Poetica. Her chapbook After/Life will be published by Finishing Line Press. Her book Ghost Recipe will be published by Broadstone Books.

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